Posted by Echo King on February 9, 2009 in Collections

At the end of January made 134 million General Records Office (GRO) UK birth records for England and Wales dating from 1837 to 2005 available online for the first time, fully searchable by name, registration date and district. This was done as an update to the existing England & Wales Birth Index collection.  

Many of you may be familiar with the previous GRO Birth Index that was indexed by surname range only.  A search would produce a list of all pages on which the searched name might appear, but referenced by the first and last name on those pages only.  Now, every name in the GRO Birth Index is individually searchable. 

The newly updated Birth Index is comprised of only two separate collections instead of the three collections that existed previously. The England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 includes births registered from 1837 to 1915 and was keyed by FreeBMD, a group of independent volunteers dedicated to transcribing civil registration indexes of birth, marriage and death records for England and Wales. 

The second, England & Wales, Birth Index, 1916-2005, includes the birth index from 1916 to 1983, which has been transcribed by, and the GRO published index from 1984 to 2005. Images of the index are only available up to 1983.

We are currently working to also fully index the GRO Marriage and Death indexes. When complete, more than 250 million individual birth, marriage and death (BMD) records will be searchable. As ‘core’ record sets, this major enhancement to Ancestry’s BMD collection will be of great benefit to all UK family history researchers.


  1. Echo
    I’ve asked this question before and really didn’t get a good answer – but seeing as you are the product manager for UK content – here goes 🙂

    When will Ancestry get the UK 1911 census index and images online?


  2. John Dickinson


    Appreciate the work taking place with the GRO index. A couple of comments

    1. The FreeBMD at the moment cannot be attached to a persons record.

    2. Since the implementation any person who had a birth record attached from the original GRO index is now unlinked and you cannot view the original source as when you expand historical record you just see unknown (in all languages. If you then try to view the original image you get a search error.

    When will both of these issues be resolved.


    John D

  3. Echo King


    I’m not sure you will find my answer much more satisfying, but I can tell that we are eager to include the 1911 Census in our census collection when we are able to do so. However, due to the nature of the distribution agreement with The National Archives, this census is currently only available pay per view via the 1911 Census website. We do not know yet known when it will be available to publishers like ourselves to provide within a subscription service.

    In the meantime we aren’t just waiting around to see what will happen. We will continue to provide exciting and useful records sets to help find new relations as well as enrich the stories of those you already know about. For example, we are working on vital records from the London area that date from the 1500s into the twentieth century. This new content will be coming soon.

  4. Echo King

    Good question Beverly. I’m hoping that we will have updates to marriages and deaths completed within the next year.

  5. Echo
    So that I could provide the birth reference to one of my family – that I know the exact birth date for, I put her information into the ‘complete’ UK birth index.

    I guess it isn’t as complete as you think, she doesn’t exist – but if you search long enough through the images for September quarter 1949 you can find Nancy M Sellers. Actually I just went to TheGenealogist web site and found it there.

    This isn’t just one name missing, all the names are missing from at least that one page.

    So either your indexing is as they say – screwed, or your quality control sucks.

    Which one is it and why should I renew my subscription in June.

    Performance and page loading is still appallingly slow.


  6. Oxpictus

    I had mentioned this in another comment section on this website, but when one finds they have many members of British monarchy in their lineage (which both my husband and I do) it is difficult to enter their title, since the form insists on a first and last name. Also, because some postings do not address titles, I am forced to go offsite to gather pertinent information to include in comments. (i.e. Henry Plantagenet is Henry II, King of England) It would be nice to show not only their lineage, but their titles, also.

  7. I think a black hole has swallowed all of the Ancestry / TGN VPs and product people – where are the responses to all the complaints – or is it impossible to defend?


  8. The records sullied by the FreeBMD site are full of errors and omissions. There is no substitute for reading the actual scanned images of the indexes. Please give us easy access to the indexes. If you are going to give us FreeBMD then what are we paying a subscription for?

  9. I would like to type in the name of an idividual and get some information. Unfortunately, when I type my name in the blanks, I only get another screen. I was looking for the birth recording of my grandfaterh, John Andrew Bell who was born on March 17, 1867. Can you help

  10. Jo

    I don’t know where else to ask this question that would be more appropriate so I’ll ask it here. Will my World Deluxe Membership give me access to the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) records?


  11. Echo King

    If you would like to view the images of the indexes without using the keyed index you can use the browse feature found below the search box.

  12. Michael King

    I agree with Steve Kirby No.10 Feb. 19th 2009.
    The Browse facility only provides for first letter selection, this is far too coarse. Why can’t the full search capability be available within these records?

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